A Public Relations Case Study of the “Oprah Effect”: How Acai Became a Superfood Overnight

What is the phenomena called the “Oprah Effect”?

If any one person on this Earth in this lifetime has the Midas touch, she would be Oprah Winfrey, as everything and everyone who has appeared on her show in the last two or three decades has seen great success.

Reaching out to help others live out their professional dreams and ambitions, Winfrey has been credited with helping launch a list of household names and products.

  • First and foremost, Dr. Phil McGraw., Dr. Oz, Gayle King, Suze Orman, Nate Berkus, and Rachael Rae have been some of the more famous success stories of people who launched their careers after appearing on Oprah.
  • More than just influencing consumers, mainly her audience, to read the works of these respected authors, Winfrey’s word carries influence in the publishing industry as well.

Winfrey has helped new authors launch their careers and seasoned ones re-establish their fan base by giving these writers a platform to discuss their works and giving them her seal of approval, and of the authors chosen to appear as a part of her book club, at least twenty of these books have reached #1 on USA’s Best-Selling Books list.

  • From Spanx, Carol’s Daughter beauty products, and UGG Boots to bakeries, popcorn, and kitchen cutlery, Winfrey has endorsed and invested in some of the most popular household and beauty products, including Weight Watchers, whose stock soared after she purchased it.

Over the years since beginning her talk show career in 1984, Winfrey has helped so many achieve success and only by providing a platform for those to present their ideas to the public.

The Oprah Effect, simply put, is the increased success a business has after appearing on Winfrey’s show or after being endorsed by her.

But is the Oprah Effect just some unexplainable phenomena OR is there something else at work?

Of course, by looking at the success of those she has mentored and endorsed, one would assume that some of this achievement is related to her working her mojo for them.

However, one could also surmise she has created this platform by building excellent public relations. By doing so, Oprah has managed to not only create an empire but also help others build their own wealth as well.

...But how?

Winfrey’s talk show in and of itself provided the platform for her to inform and persuade her public on a number of topics. Every day, viewers tuned in to not only find answers to the complexities of their own existence, but tuned in to also learn about products and foods for optimum health all so her viewers could live their best lives.

However, her work outside of the studio and with communities have really been the groundwork grassroots effort that helped establish Winfrey as one of the most influential people, much less women, on the planet.

In addition to her private film productions, she established a foundation that funds projects worldwide. Not just about investing money in philanthropic projects, Winfrey dedicated a lot of time into projects that advanced the cause of giving dignity and humanity to impoverished people around the world.

  • Her Angel Network helps underserved communities and provides educational opportunities for those who need help with their basic needs. This particular effort focused on helping marginalized populations deal with poverty, child neglect and disease.
  • The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy in South Africa is a school she started to educate and empower girls from disadvantaged families.
  • In addition, Winfrey’s shows were also known for their great giveaways where people who were just down-on-their-luck were given a boost of good fortune through Winfrey’s gift-giving projects.

By reinvesting in high-need areas, not just money but time, Winfrey has established a relationship with multiple communities, one of the major tenets of public relations.


As a result of establishing herself on the world stage as a philanthropist, she in essence gave entrepreneurs a platform from which to present any idea and any person.

At the core of this phenomena is years and years of great public relations where Winfrey built a platform to inform and to persuade, and more importantly, to build relationships.

Now about the acai berry….

The acai berry is a reddish-purple fruit grown from the acai palm tree and is rich in antioxidants. More significantly, the berry is associated with weight loss.

In 2009, Winfrey, featuring Dr. Oz, talked about some of the claims surrounding the fruit’s weight loss properties, and sales of the fruit soared as advertisements appeared on television, online and in emails!

While Winfrey has had to address companies who attributed her to unsubstantiated health claims about the berry, the fact is that by merely being showcased on her series, the product sold.

In the end, the success of this product is a great example of the way in which Winfrey has established a relationship of trust with viewers and how this trust has translated into great public relations all in the effort of promoting numerous causes and making a living at the same time.

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